7.146 A senior court may declare that an Act is inconsistent with rights set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 in a way that has not been justified in a free and democratic society. The Human Rights Review Tribunal may issue an equivalent declaration under the Human Rights Act 1993 (in respect of the right to freedom from discrimination). The Attorney-General is required to notify the House of Representatives and the government must formulate a response when any such declaration is made.
7.147 The Attorney-General must first notify the House within six sitting days that a declaration has been made. This notice triggers a process of parliamentary consideration of the declaration. A select committee will consider the declaration and may make any recommendations to address the declaration. The committee will report its findings to the House within four months of the Attorney-General's notice, and the government must present its own response within six months of the notice (or by a date otherwise decided by the House). A parliamentary debate on the declaration, select committee report, and government response must be held within six sitting days of the government response being presented. There is no statutory requirement for the government or the House to respond in any particular way to a declaration of inconsistency. The processes established for considering declarations are intended to promote reconsideration of significant rights issues by Parliament and the Executive in the light of advice from the senior courts.